Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kitchen Play: Apple Tartlettes

Sometimes my husband must think I am crazy…at least about food. Like today. I had 9 pounds of Gala apples, bought for the ridiculously low price of 33 cents/pound. (There was a limit on how much I could buy, otherwise I would have bought a lot more.) I knew I wanted to make applesauce, but I also wanted apple tartlettes. Something for dinner and to send with Butcher Son to the crew at Robert’s Market.

I started by making a double batch of a shortbread tart dough, just as Mr B went off to the dentist. When he returned, there was a whole row of tartlette pans, filled with raw dough. There was also a large skillet with a caramelized apple mixture; something I found in this month’s Bon Appetit. I thought it would go well in the tart shells, but after getting started, I realized that the mixture would be too runny for the tart shells. It’s good eaten with a spoon and some whipped cream, and probably really good with the rice pudding it was intended to be served with, but not so much for the tarts.

So I started peeling apples and cutting them up in various ways and arranging them in tart shells. I sprinkled them with a sugar/flour/cinnamon mix, dotted them with butter and put 5 into the oven. Not bad. But I still wanted to try some type of caramelized apple.

I put on my thinking cap and decided to dice two apples and saute in butter. Then I added sugar and caramelized the mixture a bit, adding some cream at the end. I partially baked a tart shell and scooped some in, shuttling it back to the oven to cook.

Meanwhile, my eye kept roaming back to the original caramelized apple mixture. I really wanted to use it somehow. So I partially baked another crust and then strained the apples out and piled them on the shell. Then I added some of the caramelly syrup and stuck it in the oven.

I can see that the diced caramel apple tarts are doing well, so I proceed with a second one. Pop it into the oven. Now I only have 5 shells left. Three I do with concentric apple slices and then I get lazy and do two with diced apples. I mean, by now its 3pm and I started this adventure around 11.

Final tally is 4 1/2 hours, 14 tartlettes, 1 pound Gala apples and lots of smiling faces. The favorite at our house was the off-the-cuff caramel apple tart. Sweet and gooey. And I actually had a lot of fun playing in the kitchen. Now, off to make some applesauce….

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